Saturday, May 29, 2010

Obama Let Me Down

Ok, it happened.  I finally feel betrayed by Obama.  Not betrayed in the sense that he did anything against me, but betrayed in that his people pulled a politically boneheaded move that made no sense.  I can accept disagreements on policy, but once Obama starts royally screwing the politics, I get worried.

I speak, of course, of the news that they seriously tried to get Sestak out of Arlen Specter's hair.  What a mistake.  Now, I don't know enough about Sestak to know if he's a better guy for the job than Specter.  Presumably, that'd be the case, based upon Specter's record, but I never really looked into him and tend to avoid the polemic "my enemy's enemy is my friend" reasoning too many progressives indulge in (eg, Ned Lamont).  But where I really LIKED Sestak was that he forced Specter to actually be a Democrat, and not just in name.

As it was, I suspect that Specter figured he'd have the D vote locked-up because of the label, and could continue to be a moderate-conservative in order to move in on Toomey's territory.  But with Sestak in the race, he'd actually have to act like a Democrat to even get the nomination, and since his status as a recent Republican cast serious doubts on that, he'd really have to look like a team player if he wanted to win. 

And so whether or not Sestak won, his presence in the race would surely be an improvement for us.  And I naturally assumed that the Obama people would fully have realized that and would continue to support Specter publicly, but would do little to actually help him.  After all, their fortunes were hardly aligned, so the harder things got for Specter, the better things got for Obama.

Not What I Thought

And now we learn that the Obama people apparently wanted Sestak out of the way and I...I don't know what to say.  This just seems dumb, for many reasons.  And I'm thinking that maybe, just maybe this was part of some specific deal with Specter, in order to get his support on something, and maybe they even knew that Sestak would turn it down. 

But even THAT doesn't make much sense.  If they wanted to help Specter, they could still do so while keeping Sestak in.  But once Sestak was out of the race, it'd take all the pressure off Specter and he'd most certainly have moved to the right.  After all, it was in Specter's best interests to not have to act like a Democrat if he thought he'd already get the Democratic vote.  You're supposed to try to steal votes from your opponent; not secure votes you already have.

And so, now, I can't help but think that maybe the Obama people really didn't know what they were doing on this.  And if they got this wrong, what else might they be getting wrong?  And who knows, maybe there's some big piece of this that I'm not seeing, and it really is hard to know what's going on with people you don't even really know.  But still, I had assumed they knew how to best take advantage of the Specter situation, and it turns out, they almost blew it.  It's one thing for them to pretend to support Specter publicly, but privately supporting him?  In a way they wouldn't even want anyone to know about?  I find that troubling. 

So you've been put on notice, Obama Administration.  Doctor Biobrain will be watching you a little more closely from now on.  Not that this will do any good, as I have about as much influence on Obama as a Monday morning quarterback has on the activities of a real quarterback on Sunday morning.  But still, this makes me somehow feel better to imagine I have some influence on anything, so that's what I'm going to continue to do.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

How NOT to be a True Texan

I recently noted how my governor claims to have shot a scary coyote with the laser-sighted gun he jogs with, an incident he didn't tell reporters about until two months later...after the carcass was gone. 

And now I read this:
Gov. Rick Perry's showdown on the jogging trail has spurred a gun maker to sell a "Coyote Special" edition of the weapon he used to bring down a varmint.

Sturm, Ruger & Co. Inc., which makes the .380-caliber pistol Perry used to shoot a coyote he said was threatening his dog, has come out with a limited-edition version.

It is emblazoned with "Coyote Special" and "A True Texan" on the sides. On top is a picture of a coyote howling at the moon and five-pointed star of Texas.
Really?  Do you get a discount if you buy it with the Red Ryder BB gun with a compass in the stock and a thing which tells time?  I can only imagine that the Red Ryder might add back a little of the dignity lost after being seen with this joke of a gun.

And I'm sorry, but anyone who wants a gun that says "A True Texan" on the side isn't a true Texan.  That's all there is to it.  I don't care if you've lived here your whole life and Sam Houston himself said that your ancestors epitomized the Texan ideal; the moment you take pride in brandishing your "True Texan" Governor Perry Special, you're nothing but a damn poser who needs to get his yankee poser ass out of the damn state, pronto. 

This should be a litmus test for residency.  Just as telling people you're cool is the surest sign you're not cool, the moment you need to own a gun that says you're a Texan, particularly if it has the words "coyote" on it and a picture of a coyote; you lose.  It's over.  You just admitted to the world that you suck and don't deserve the money you spent on buying such a dumb toy as this. 

I'm in no way anti-gun, but I'm most definitely anti-coyote gun.  That's just a dumb dumb thing which should never have been made.  It truly saddens me to think that these people represent Texas in any way.  I'm sure John Wayne is spinning in his grave, and he wasn't even a Texan.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

MacGruber Rocked

I normally don't do movie reviews, because I so rarely see new movies.  But I saw MacGruber yesterday, and let me tell you, it totally kicked my ass.  In a word, awesome.  Totally awesome.  It might not be your cup of tea, but if it isn't, you're an idiot who should see it anyway, because you clearly don't know anything about anything and can stand to learn something.  But if you DO know anything about anything, then you should certainly see the movie, because you'll totally love it.

Oh, but if you can, see it at a theater that sells good beer, or perhaps indulge in your own chemical/biological enhancers before the film; as I'm sure that added quite a bit to my enjoyment.  No, it's not the most intelligent film you'll ever see, but you'll wish it was.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Gambling With Infinite-Sided Dice

In a recent post on religion, I wrote:
I love religious debate of all kinds and think it's the best way to hone your own beliefs. But as soon as you move from "This is what I believe" to "This is what you should believe," you've crossed the line.
And a commenter wrote back, saying:
Religions make claims about what reality actually is. Do you really mean to imply that we shouldn't advocate that people believe likely true things and stop believing likely false things?
But the problem here is that it has a misuse of the concept of probability.  In order to make a prediction on how likely something is, you have to have enough information about it in order to make such a determination. 

For example, if I had a normal six-sided dice and asked you what the likelihood of me rolling a six, you'd know I had a one-in-six chance.  And that's based upon your knowledge of dice.

But...what if I wouldn't let you look at the dice, didn't tell you how many sides it had, didn't tell you if it was "loaded" to spin a specific number, and refused to even let you see it after I rolled, forcing you to accept my word for what it said?  Could you tell me the probability of me getting a six?  Of course not.  Hell, the dice might not even HAVE a six on it, for all you know.  So you simply wouldn't have enough information to make an informed decision. 

Religious Probability

And so it is with religion.  We simply don't have enough information to determine how likely it is that a god exists.  We can't even make an educated guess.  Instead, the best we can do is take a complete stab in the dark, based entirely upon our pre-held beliefs.  And that's what makes debate on this so useless, as a religious person is simply going to have a different set of beliefs than a non-religious person.

It'd be like two people arguing about the probability of a dice rolling six, when one thinks it's a normal six-sided dice, and the other thinks it's an infinite-sided dice.  If either agrees to accept the other's belief, then they can easily come to agreement.  But as long as they hold firm on their beliefs, there can NEVER be agreement.  Their answers can never match.

And again, if someone's willing to discuss religion with you, that's great.  I love religious discussions.  But generally, that will involve you accepting their basis hypothetically, and discussing the specifics of their religion.  Or, you can explain why it's not necessary for there to be a god; assuming they want to have that discussion.  But if your argument focuses on them accepting premises that they simply refuse to accept, then it's a pointless discussion that borders on the offensive.

And of course, my original point wasn't merely regarding a debate on religion, but actually forcing beliefs on to others.  For example, Christians who want to use the government to enforce their own beliefs about abortion on to non-believers is wrong.  Similarly, an atheist who used government to force Christians to have abortions would also be wrong.  And that's really more of what I was referring to.  And as long as religious people aren't forcing me to obey their religion, I fail to see what the problem is.

Republicans Exploit Dem Weakness: We're Too Indecisive

Uh, oh.  It looks like after losing far more Congressional elections than they've won over the last twenty years, as well as losing all seven special elections in the U.S. House since the last general election, Republicans have finally figured out our weakness.  As the AP headline says: GOP Wins House Seat in Obama's Home District.  Ouch.

But of course, this wasn't really Obama's "home" district, as his home district is in Illinois, and people generally use that term to mean the place where the politician won; and not the place where they grew up.  But still, as the AP points out, this was once a heavily Democratic district, and now the Republicans have a lot to crow about by having taken it.

As the article makes clear in two different places:
The seat had been held by a Democrat for nearly 20 years and is located where Obama was born and spent most of his childhood.
Now Republicans can say they won a congressional seat in the former backyard of the president and in a state that gave Obama 72 percent of the vote two years ago.
It's obvious that this defeat is a special burn on us, which is the main point of the article.

How They Did It

And how did they do it?  By sticking to hardcore conservative principals.  The article quotes from GOP head Michael Steele, saying:
 Charles' victory is evidence his conservative message of lowering the tax burden, job creation and government accountability knows no party lines. It is a message Americans want to hear from candidates across the country.
And the AP's reporter actually took that further, writing as fact:
Djou, 39, enjoyed solid support from state and national Republicans and ran a disciplined campaign focused on taxes and government spending at a time when Hawaii's tourism-driven economy remains troubled, with the state facing a $1 billion deficit, large cuts to state programs and workers and an unemployment rate that has nearly doubled in the last three years.

In contrast, Democrats bickered over whether Case or Hanabusa was the strongest candidate for their party, and the situation got so bad that Obama and national party leaders weren't able to endorse one contender.
You see?  Republicans won because they were disciplined, while Democrats were indecisive and bickered.  And while the article quotes Democrats making excuses about how the Democrats actually won 58% of the vote, that only emphasizes how disunited they were.  Their party could win more votes and still not pull out a victory.  And the reporter quoted the typical loser bravado about how they'll be able to win during the regular election in November.  Ah, Democrats.  Always the spinners.

The Liberal Media Strikes Again

Fortunately for us, the liberally-biased reporter hid the most important factor on this story, in order to prevent Republicans from exploiting this weakness again.  Never stated directly in the story: Two Democrats were running because it was a special election and there was no primary to whittle away the other one.  And that's just not something that will happen in November.

And whew, it's a good thing the AP failed to outright say that, or Republicans might try to use that to their advantage.  Perhaps they'd cancel all future Dem primaries or something, I don't know.  And so, while readers will take away the unhideable truth about how Republicans gave Obama a black eye by running a disciplined fiscal conservative who stuck to his core beliefs, which was enough to defeat TWO Democrats in a Democratic district; the AP was at least kind enough to hide the real reason for this defeat.

So thank you AP, for keeping our weakness a secret.  Sure, some readers might understand why it was that two Democrats were competing against each other, but in case they didn't, there's no reason to let the cat out of the bag.  Better to just tell everyone about how weak and indecisive Democrats are, without bothering to explain why that happened.  You guys really earned your liberal credentials this time.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Freedom to Write Laws

There’s this oddball idea that we’re all free to live in peace and as long as we’re not violating any rules we agree with, we’re not doing anything wrong. And therefore, no government has any right to stop us from doing what we want to do, because the things we want to do aren’t wrong by our own standards.

And I was thinking about this after reading an article about a “sovereign citizen” who killed two police officers who “wrongly” tried to enforce rules on him and his son. But this is really the basis for most rightwing libertarianism, as well as the underlying basis for conservativism.

And the idea is that, if they don’t agree with a law, then the government has no business enforcing it. And it’s a violation of their rights if the government attempts to do so. And so they insist that they have the freedom to pollute, the freedom to trade derivatives unhindered, and the freedom to deny black people from eating at their diners.

The True Extent of Freedom

And the thing is, yeah, they ARE free to do these things. In fact, we’re ALL free to do whatever the hell we want, all the time. Seriously. I really mean that.

For instance, you’re free to throw trash on my land, and I’m free to throw it onto yours. You’re free to steal my stuff, and I’m free to steal it back. You’re free to shoot my dog, and I’m free to kill you and your whole family. I’m not being cute here. That’s really how it works. We’re all free to do all of these things.

But…there’s ANOTHER freedom we get. We have the freedom to group together and form a system that infringes on the freedom of others. We have the freedom to decide which freedoms to infringe upon and what happens to people who continue to exercise those freedoms in violation of our freedom. And we have the freedom to hire people to enforce out freedom, and give them the freedom to do whatever it takes to make sure our freedom is secure.

And as part of this system, we decided to use geographical-based jurisdictions to determine which laws are applied where, and who gets to enforce these laws within these boundaries. And in America, we had the freedom to force everyone within our boundaries to obey our rules. And if you don’t like it, you have to get outside of our boundaries. That’s the deal.

God-Given Freedoms

And that’s where all these people get confused. Because they think that their freedom extends all the way to their preferred limits, whatever they personally decide it is. But it’s not. Because there is nothing that protects your freedom beyond your ability to enforce it. And if you became Superman and couldn’t be stopped, then you’d have the freedom to do anything and we couldn’t exercise our freedom to stop you.

Similarly, if you can amass a giant army which allowed you to take over America and prevented the rest of us from exercising our freedom to stop you, then do it. That’s how it works. But…if you CAN’T do that, then you won’t be able to stop us from exercising our freedom to stop you; which includes our freedom to kill people who attempt to destroy our system.

And again, I’m not being cute. This isn’t a rhetorical ruse. This is how life works. There are no guarantees and you only have the freedom that you can enforce. This has been the accepted system for thousands and thousands of years, and there is no other option. We all have the freedom to do whatever we want, and that includes the freedom to create government and enforce laws. And if you can’t stop us from doing so, then tough shit. Either change the laws or get out of the way. There are no other options.

And in any case, this clearly puts to rest the myth that the government is somehow evil for infringing upon individual freedoms.  Because government is yet another freedom that individuals have.  Yes, the government is infringing upon your freedom, but there's clearly nothing inherently immoral about that.  And at the end of the day, you're still stuck justifying your specific actions, and freedom has nothing to do with it.

Friday, May 21, 2010

People Are Better Than Property

Josh Marshall has a post responding to a libertarian who insists that opposition to civil rights laws isn't opposition to civil rights.  And while I liked Josh's response, I think he missed a bigger point: These are civil rights.  Not civil privileges or civil niceties.  These are rights.  And what good is a right if it can be denied to you?  That's like saying that I have the "right" to own property, but anyone can come along and take it from me if I can't stop them myself.

And hey, let's just take this in the other direction.  Why DO I have the right to property?  Because the "law" says I do.  Just like the "law" says I get to eat at whatever restaurant I choose.  So clearly, a "law" isn't enough for a libertarian, as they clearly prefer that we change laws that infringe upon freedom.  They need something more than that.

So why AREN'T armed gunmen allowed to take property?  I mean, by libertarian thinking, a restaurant owner owns the restaurant, and should get to choose who eats there.  Similarly, a gun owner owns a gun and should get to decide who he points it at and what he says when he does so.  Seriously, why the hell not?  If the right to be a different color and still be fed isn't sacred, what the hell's so special about property? 

And really, government-enforced rules on ownership are TOTALLY an infringement upon my freedom.  I didn't agree to not own that land.  I didn't give up my right to own that restaurant, simply by being born after it was first "owned."  Why the hell do the rules that someone ELSE came up with somehow bind MY decisions on what happens to that property? 

And it should be noted, that there ARE people who think this way, and believe that prior ownership rules are invalid, because there was no original right to ownership from the beginning.

Property v. People

And yet, most libertarians don't think this way.  They think that a black person's right to eat at a diner isn't sacred, because the diner owner's right to own that diner IS sacred, and that means he gets to do whatever the hell he wants with it.  Civil rights written into law are invalid, because they infringe upon property rights; as if the right to ownership is so much more sacred than the right to fair treatment that the right to fair treatment doesn't really exist.

And that's where libertarians like Rand Paul really fall.  Sure, they'll pay lip service to civil rights, but as long as they think property rights invalidate civil rights, then they don't really believe in civil rights in the first place.  Ultimately, people are more important than property.  If you don't see it that way, then you just don't like people very much.  That's all there is to it.

And of course, once you accept the premise that the government can do ANYTHING that restricts your freedom (like your freedom to shoot people in the face), then you're well on your way down the slippery slope of liberalism.  There's nothing magical about property that makes it better than people.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Rand Paul: The End of the Party

Without a doubt, allowing the Tea Party to become an identifiable movement was the biggest mistake Republicans have made in generations.  Because first off, as I've said repeatedly, for as much as it's an anti-Obama movement; it's really a splinter group of Republicans.  They're not a threat to Obama; they're a threat to each other.

These people have hated Obama and the Democrats since back when they hated Clinton and the Democrats; and that hatred goes back past Dukakis, Mondale, and Carter, all the way to when hippy protesters were destroying their country.  Democrats have already taken all the heat these guys can give, and it's only getting easier.  It was the Republican Establishment that needed to be worried, as the heat's just getting hotter for them.

So, for them to not only have allowed the movement to grow, but even encourage the movement was an epic blunder.  It'd be like if Al Gore had embraced the Naderites in 2000, telling them how right they were about everything, and what a swell guy Ralph Nader was, because he represented America's true ideal; unlike himself, who wouldn't go nearly as far as Nader.  And the only reason they didn't see this is because the Tea Partiers weren't yet represented by a tangible opponent, and since all the Tea Partiers were part of their long-time base, they naturally assumed this was just an energized faction of the base.  Big mistake. 

And yes, this is something I warned about over a year ago, back when the "tea parties" were just forming.  Hindsight is 20-20, but Biobrain's predictions are the next best thing.

Taking Our Government Back

But it's not just the Republican Party that will suffer, as the Tea Party is bringing out the worst in themselves.  Because they already had an over-inflated sense of importance and their insistence on tuning out anyone who disagrees only amplifies the echo chamber they live in.  And these two features feed on each other, to make them believe that they're part of some massive movement of Real Americans, which liberally-biased pollsters ignore and which somehow never seem to materialize on election day.

And for as bad as their belief in a mythical Silent Majority crippled them, the smaller faction of Tea Partiers has only amplified it.  Now, they're no longer part of a Republican Party which included Northeast liberals, or midwest moderates, or even full-blooded conservatives.  No, the echo chamber now consists of ultra-conservatives, all out-doing themselves to impress the ever-shrinking ranks of their movement.

And so you end up with Messianic leaders like this:

And, wow.  You'd think this guy just won a presidential election, while single-handedly sweeping his supporters into a majority of Congress.  Dude, you just won a primary; not an actual election.  Get a grip. 

Transforming America

And that's exactly the sort of over-inflated importance I'm talking about.  He thinks his one victory, in a Republican primary in a Republican state, is a "huge" mandate that will transform America; and that America's greatness hinges upon people supporting him.  This isn't normal.  This is outright delusion.  And the more he thinks he's part of the leadership of some truly great movement, the more he'll throw caution to the wind and tell people what he thinks.

Back in the day, Republicans like Nixon and Reagan knew how to feed the crazies and soothe their precious egos, which were wounded by the idea that they're not better than everyone else.  But over the years, the Republicans actually started believing this garbage; imagining that white rural people really were better than everyone else, and really represented a majority large enough to win every election.  What was once a ruse to slice-off a chunk of a once-reliably Democratic group has now become the entire purpose of the party.

And now, the rubes have taken over the party, and imagine they're leading the pack of a giant movement, and that America's future rests solely on their shoulders.  And the more they think everyone agrees with them, the less likely it is they can find people who actually do.  At this point, these people are more than willing to shoot themselves in the foot by telling everyone what they really think. 

And I support that completely.  Good luck, Rand Paul.  Make sure to talk your truths to power and when people tell you you're nuts, just get even nuttier.  Looks like we may just get a southern Senate seat out of this.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

When the Story Comes First

One main problem I have with progressives is their Storyline First methods, which is also what makes them so much like the wingnuts they hate.  In all cases, they KNOW the system is corrupt, and so every story is seen through the prism of trying to figure out how the system is cheating them. 

And so it is with the BP oil disaster.  Because first off, no matter how bad the official estimates are, they KNOW that whatever expert has the worst estimate must be the right one.  They might not know who these experts are, but they know a good number when they see one.  Apparently, "horrible mess" isn't horrible enough, if you can find someone to make it sound even more horrible.  But hey, estimates are estimates, and anyone can pick the one they like (which is why I generally ignore them). 

But what about facts?  Do we get to pick those too?  I think not.  Yet, we see that same thing when it comes to the liability cap on oil spills.  Currently, an oil spiller's liability for economic damages is capped at $75 million; which is way too low, in my opinion.  And while Congressional Dems are trying to raise that cap, Carpetbagger has the story on how yet another Republican is trying to put a stop to that; under the idea that small oil companies who aren't rich enough to fix their own messes would be put out of business, simply because they can't afford to fix their own messes.

And of course, progressives are rightly upset about this.  But, it's the REASON they're upset that I find dismaying.  Now as a refresher, this cap is a limit on economic damages that they can be sued for.  But...they still have to pay the full cost of the clean-up.  There is no limit on that.  Yet, to hear progressives tell it, Big Oil is screwing us yet again and Dems won't do anything to stop it. 

Too Big to Clean

Here's a highlight of comments, from just this one post:
The reasoning is that oil is natural, so why shouldn't the cap be kept at 75 mill? If it costs more than that to clean's an act of god and therefor, tough shit.

The oil industry is powerful enough to clean up their own mess.  The oil industry is also powerful enough to ensure that citizens pay for it.  Fascism is being defined right before our eyes, and there isn't a damned thing that can be done... because that's precisely what fascism is. No recourse.

The GOP's plan is obvious. Clean up MUST be privatized to be effective. KBR and Bechtel and Haliburton know how to clean up this environmental mess. And the taxpayers will get the bill.

oil companies: too big to fail; too big to clean?
And again, it seems a few people didn't get the memo on what liabilities are being capped.  And that's fine, not everyone is an expert on every subject.  But first off, these are the first people to attack "dumb Americans" for not being better informed.  Yet, on one of the most important issues of the day, that these people are reading about daily, they don't even know a basic fact of the story.  And once again, they have absolutely no problem shouting about it.  Facts be damned, they've got a story to complain about.

Making Things Worse

And that's how this ties into the most horrible estimates that they use as "fact," as I mentioned earlier.  Because that's all this really is to them: A horrible story that confirms all their beliefs.

Sure, they don't like the oil spill.  Of course they're concerned that it gets cleaned up.  But their FIRST priority is making sure that everyone gets scared shitless by the story, so we can form a lynch mob and finally teach these corporate fascists a lesson; which they "know" will never happen because the system is corrupt.  And so they'll rant about the worst case scenarios and insist that we're all going to get hosed, facts be damned.

But the reality is that it's going to cost BP just as much to clean this, no matter what the estimates currently are.  And by the time the full extent of the economic damage is done, even Republicans are going to find it difficult to continue carrying water for the industry.  Spin can be effective, but in the long run, BP's going to suffer.  And no matter how much they pay, one thing is assured for progressives, it won't be enough because the system doesn't work.

Even Facts Don't Work

And the final kicker?  Once one such progressive realized the mistake, did this bring about any better feelings?  Of course not.
OH pleaze people, does anyone really believe BP is going to cover all the cost of clean-up and some of the damage costs ? Does anyone think anyone will go to jail or get any sort of real fine ?

BP will leverage their exposure with the little amount of money they use for clean-up. Who's going to lay down the law, Obama, Congress, ya right. Even if they did, I guarantee the corporate structure of BP is set-up in such a way that their liability is minimal.
Of course.  Just like how Exxon didn't pay an estimated $2 billion to clean-up the Alaskan shoreline.  And of course, it's not Obama and Congress who decides liability.  It's a little thing known as the Judicial Branch.  And while the Supreme Court eventually let Exxon off the hook for the billions in punative damages Exxon was originally socked with, they still ended up paying $1 billion in damages.

But yeah, the system is corrupt.  BP won't end up paying anything, and we don't even need to wait for that to happen to know that it will.  And we can blame Obama and those damn Dems for not sticking up for us, if they are doing that right now.  Who needs to wait for facts when we already know the story?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

When Religion Hurts

I'm not at all anti-religious.  Over the years, I've known many religious people who I think were made better by their religion, and I myself was raised Catholic, and don't feel it hurt me in the least.  As far as religion goes towards improving people and giving them guidance in their own lives, I'm all for it.  If somebody claims that they'd be raping hamsters were Jesus not in their life, then I'm all for them having Jesus in their life; if only for the sake of the hamsters.

But the part I don't like is when people take their religion and insist that it also applies to everyone else.  People who use religion as a weapon in order to further their own interests; whether those interests are personal or religious.  And that applies to anti-religious atheists who mock religious people and try to force their atheism on others.  If someone wants to discuss religion with you, that's great.  I love religious debate of all kinds and think it's the best way to hone your own beliefs.  But as soon as you move from "This is what I believe" to "This is what you should believe," you've crossed the line.

Overall, your religion is your business and you have no business forcing it upon others; just as others have no business forcing their religion on you.  And that includes prayer in school, which should be up to the individual and not an officially sanctioned event.  I have no problem with people talking to their god; just as long as I don't have to eavesdrop on the call. 

Fake Ex-Muslims

And so I read with interest the story of the Ergun Caner, president of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary (aka, Jerry Falwell University), who claims to have been raised as a radical Muslim jihadist until his conversion to Christianity in his late teens.  And while his conversion is his own business, after 9/11, he's used his conversion as a weapon against Islam, in order to further his own personal interests.  And as I said, that's an area of interest to me.

And as the story unfolds, it appears Caner is a total fraud.  Not only was he not raised as a radical Muslim in Turkey, as he leads people to believe, he wasn't raised in Turkey at all...or as a Muslim.  Rather, it appears he was an atheist from Ohio (though his father was a Turkish Muslim).  And it seems that after 9/11, he made quite a mint by teaching scared Christians of all the evils of Islam, from the perspective of a reformed insider.

Yet while his knowledge of Islam is clearly sufficient enough for his Christian audiences, he screws up even the most basic facts about the religion.  From the bits I can gather, he's the equivalent of a christian theologian who doesn't know who John the Baptist is, what day Christmas is, or why protestants aren't Catholic.  He even substitutes gibberish for an actual langauge Muslims might speak; which is so bad that even *I* think it sounds like gibberish, and I'm horrible with languages. 

Fake Islam

You can read lots about it at Fake Ex-Muslims, a website devoted to exposing Caner as the anti-Muslim fraud he is.  And I liked that site for two reasons: One, I love stories exposing frauds; especially religious frauds who use their religion as a weapon to hurt others.  Rather than using religion to improve life, he uses it to scare Christians with lies about Islam; feeding upon their ignorance by making them hate a religion they don't understand.  And as I said above, that's something I'm never cool with.

But secondly, I actually learned quite a bit about Islam as part of the reading.  All I've known of Islam were a few basic words and ideas, and this website goes into those basic ideas because those are the same ideas that Caner's christian audience is familiar with.  And so to expose Caner's fraudulent Muslim past, it's necessary to go a little deeper into these areas, which was great, as I now understand things a little better.  And while I have no plans to ever convert to any religion, I'm always interested in learning about them, so I can better understand how other people think.

And so if you've got nothing better to do today, I definitely recommend checking out Fake Ex-Muslims for awhile.  While I think it could be organized and written better, and needs more emphasis on how his anti-Muslim stuff is wrong, it's still a good read; which is not only informative, but also pretty funny.  As a relatively honest person who makes a point of playing by the rules, it always gives me a boost to read about cheaters getting taken down.  I hope more heat is put on this guy, if only so that his christian victims finally learn that the radical Islam he warned them about was just an attempt to con them of their money.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Obama's Liberal Bonafides

As a follow-up to my last post on Obama's position in the political spectrum, I'd like to highlight this post at Washington Monthly, which covers the real reason we elected Obama.  It's not about being the Prime Minister of Congress and pushing hardcore legislation through.  It's about running the government. 

Here's a porton of a NY Times article mentioned in that post:
In a burst of rule-making, federal agencies have toughened or proposed new standards to protect Americans from tainted eggs, safeguard construction workers from crane accidents, prevent injuries from baby walkers and even protect polar bears from extinction.

Over the last year, the Obama administration has pressed forward on hundreds of new mandates, while also stepping up enforcement of rules by increasing the ranks of inspectors and imposing higher fines for violations. [...]
And of course, this is the stuff progressives don't care much about.  They want political battles.  They want to see Republicans eating dirt and sucking eggs.  What they don't care as much about is quiet enforcement of existing regulations which make us safer. 

That's not to say that they don't want this sort of thing.  It's just doesn't count.  Because you don't get to shove it into anyone's face.  You don't see the evil-doers getting punished.  It's not enough that a tree in the woods fell on Big Business if a liberal wasn't there to watch.

And yet, this is Obama's job.  He's the head of the Executive Branch.  His job is to run the government, not create laws and strong-arm his party into obedience.  And anyone who denounces excessive presidential over-reach should be ashamed that they want Obama to run Congress.  Yes, he's giving us decent legislation that Congress wouldn't give us otherwise, but that's just the icing on the cake.  His real job is to enforce the legislation we already have, and he's doing a great job of it.

The Real Political Spectrum

There's a meme repeated by all good progressives that says that Obama is a moderate who moves to the right in order to appease conservatives; thus making him a moderate-conservative.  And this is based upon a model of the political spectrum which puts them on the left, anything that Congress might consider in the middle, and anything that Congress passes on the right.

For example, in the healthcare debate, single-payer healthcare was the leftie position, regulated insurance exchanges with a public option was the compromise position, and regulated insurance exchanes sans public option was the rightie position.  And for this to make sense, we're to imagine that Republicans are just playing games with us, and for as much as they opposed Obama, it was just a ruse to get him to move to the rightie position.  And sure, they'll say, Obama put a few worthless provisions into healthcare that Republicans really didn't like; so that makes him a moderate-conservative, rather than a full-on conservative.

But that's complete garbage and ignores the true depth of the political spectrum.  Because yes, there are no real progressives in Congress, and a true leftie position isn't considered acceptable.  But...there are no hardcore righties in Congress either, as the true rightie position isn't acceptable either.  The furthest Congress will go is to suggest we end Social Security and a few other popular programs; but none of them will go as far as a real rightie wants.

Beyond Bachmann

A blogger at RedState recently attacked Congressman Cantor's YouCut website, for only offering 0.5% budget cuts, insisting that "This at a time when we should be looking at serious annual budget cuts on the order of 25-30%."   I seriously doubt anyone in Congress would say such a thing, which is why these people are angry at the Republican Party.

To many on the far-right, Limbaugh is a moderate.  Seriously.  They see him as a mainstream figure and anyone to the left of him is an anti-American freak.  They don't just oppose Obama's plans, they want to abolish the entire federal government, beyond the essentials (ie, national defense).  Seriously, they're against all labor laws (including child labor laws), government-approved medicines, and other standard policies of safety that everyone takes for granted.

And of course, these are the issues that the original progressives were fighting for.  It was about protecting twelve-year-old factory workers, not single-payer insurance.  Yet, modern-progressives take all this for granted and insist that anyone who only wants a little more regulation of Big Business is right-leaning.  Yes, by European standards, America isn't liberal.  But as compared to historical standards, we're downright progressive. 

If FDR is the standard for liberals, then Obama's got to be some kind of liberal, as he accepts FDR's policies and has taken them slightly to the left. 

The Real Conservative Positions

And even conservatives in Congress are much further to the right than progressives seem to imagine.  After all, Republicans once controlled the Whitehouse and Congress.  If they wanted a healthcare reform like Obama got for us, they would have done it. 

But they didn't.  Nor did they give us a stimulus bill, or a jobs bill, or extended unemployment, or student loan reform, or any of the other things Obama got for us.  Instead, they would have given us more war, more cronyism, and more tax cuts for the rich.  Even their Medicare drug plan was a joke, designed more to help Big Pharma than providing care to the elderly.  The far-right position on healthcare reform started at Status Quo and quickly delved into a complete removal of the few safeguards we had.  Hell, that was part of McCain's platform in 2008, and conservatives think McCain is a liberal-leaning sell-out.  Regulated insurance exchanges weren't even a blip on their radar.

So the right isn't anywhere close to Obama's position.  The political spectrum doesn't just run from Single-Payer to Insurance Exchanges.  It runs from Libertarian Communism to Libertarian Capitalism; with both ends of the spectrum insisting that government is the problem, and we'd be better off without it completely.  So if your political spectrum doesn't account for the whackjobs who want to abolish the Federal Government, it's not a valid spectrum. 

So yes, Obama and Congressional Democrats are to the right of progressives.  But no, that doesn't make them conservative-leaning.  There's a whole other depth of crazy that not only sees Obama's policies as Marxist, but want to turn back the progress of the last hundred and fifty years.  By comparison with them, Congressal Republicans are almost sensible.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Defending the Bailout: The Real Numbers

I've created a new rule for discussing the financial bailouts:
Anyone who still says the bailout cost $700 billion doesn't get to have an opinion until they catch-up on current events.
And this is just maddening, as the people who still hate the bailout act as if they're the highest experts on the subject, simply because everything seemed so obvious to them.  The bad guys got us into this, so the bad guys don't deserve to get bailed out.  And to help that along, they insist on painting the whole thing in the worst light, as if we all got hornswaggled by Wall Street by a fake scare, and the phrase "$700 billion" is all the evidence needed to know we got screwed.

But of course, $700 billion was the amount authorized.  But it's not like they just wrote one of those giant sweepstakes-style checks for that amount and handed it to Mr. Moneybags.  Because this wasn't the free-for-all these "experts" led themselves to believe.  There were strings attached to that money.  And it wasn't an automatic payout on the funds.

The Real Numbers

And finally, I found a site that actually kept track of the money.  And lo and behold, the amount spent wasn't $700 billion.  In fact, if you include the Wall Street bailout, Fannie and Freddie, the Auto bailout, AIG, Toxic Assets purchased, and foreclosure relief; we spent a combined total of $536.3 billion

And yes, that's a lot of money.  But that's considerably less than $700 billion, and while many bailout-haters imagined that these other bailouts were on top of the $700 billion, they weren't.  In fact, the Wall Street bailout was only $244.9 billion.  And again, that's a lot of money, but it's not $700 billion.

And of course, a lot of the money has already been paid back.  As of today, $186.9 billion has been repaid, which is almost half of the TARP funds borrowed, while we've received revenues of $29.9 billion on the assets we got.  Because again, this wasn't a free-for-all.  There were strings on that money.

Haters Don't Need Numbers

And even now, we're still holding a lot of assets, waiting for the right time to sell them for a profit.  Like our shares of Citigroup and GM that we still have.  Yet the "experts" who hate the bailout imagine that none of this is happening.  To them, we wrote that giant check to Wall Street and they laughed all the way to work.

And yes, these bastards royally screwed up and in a more fair world, they would have suffered.  But...the world's not fair and the powerful still know how to stay that way.  But all the same, things aren't nearly as bad as the bailout haters want to believe.  These were borrowed funds.  We got equity in companies.  We bailed them out, but we didn't get buried. 

Oh, and to put this in perspective: Last year's Stimulus Bill was for $787 billion, of which, an estimated $237 billion went to individuals as tax cuts; including a child tax credit, payroll tax credit, college tuition credit, and many other items that went directly to the poor and middle class.  And no, we didn't get quite as much as Wall Street got, but it wasn't shabby.  Now, if we can just get our financial reform passed, we should be able to get back to business.

When Perfect is Off the Table

One of the most obvious tells about Obama's critics on the left is how they really don't give a damn if their criticism is based upon reality.  Like with Kagan being Obama's newest nominee: She's the fricking nominee.  It's done.  It's over.  Whatever you thought before the nomination was announced is no longer applicable.  Kagan is the nominee.  The choice isn't about the "perfect" candidate versus Kagan.  It's Kagan. 

And so at this point, the question is: What do we do now?  For me, that means supporting Kagan.  What other choice do I have?  If she goes down in flames, then Obama takes a serious hit, and the media will finally be able to paint his presidency as being weakened; thus empowering conservatives.  And that's certainly not good for liberalism.  But even worse, Obama would be stuck picking someone conservatives would like even more.  So any criticsm of Kagan will only make things worse for us all.

Yet many progressives aren't happy with her, primarily because she's not a strident progressive intended to shove Republican faces into the dirt.  More than anything else, progressives want a fight and their entire political strategy is designed solely to maximize fight potential.  And so they see Kagan as the sell-out choice.  Not because they have much against her (how could they), but because they wanted a fight.

Fighting for Nothing

But what exactly do they plan to achieve?  Again, if Kagan sinks, then we'll get someone worse than Kagan.  That's a guarantee. 

Yet all the same, progressives seem to imagine as if there's some other alternative.  As if they're fighting for a more liberal choice.  As if "The Perfect" is somehow still an option.  And so they're debating Kagan's unknowns against an ideal they can't get.  And they'll raise a snitfit any chance they can, to remind you how pure they are, because they want a nominee they can't get; while their actions, if anything, could lead to us getting an even worse nominee.

But there's nothing new about that.  They didn't want Obama and would rather have had a pure candidate who loses than an imperfect one who wins.  And they'd rather sink the Stimulus Bill last year, rather than give any concessions to Republicans.  And they'd rather keep the status quo healthcare that was failing us, than the reasonable healthcare we got.  It's a theme with them.  Apparently, losing makes it easier to win later; in accordance with no known rule in the universe.

And yeah, I get it.  You're pure.  You're holier than us.  You have the perfect political solution to every policy debate, and it always involves taking a hardline liberal stance and fighting it to the end.  Bully for you.  But in the meantime, your politics suck.  And were these people in charge of the party, McCain (or worse) would be in the Whitehouse, the Republicans would control Congress, and rather than debating the merits of Kagan's hiring practices at Harvard, we'd be howling about how horrid the next Scalito is.  But hey, you'd have your purity, so that'd count for something.

And yeah, I understand the idea of having ideals and being pure.  But at the end of the day, I'd still rather have an impure president than an evil one.  No, you can't sell-out all your ideals.  But if what you're fighting for is something you can't get, then you're not fighting for anything.  And I'd rather fight for a little of something than a lot of nothing.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

The Giuliani Conspiracy

There's this conspiracy believed by many progressives that the media intentionally pushes a Republican agenda, which is why we keep losing to them all the time.  And forget about the fact that we beat them far more often than we lose, or how completely impossible it is that such a thing could happen all these years without any journalist ever mentioning that they're forced to convey Republican talking points, or that Fox News' intentional bias is clearly different from the bias we get from any other news org.  The part that interests me most is how, if this conspiracy were true, how truly lousy these people are at it.

Because let's get one thing out there: Even Fox News sucks at propaganda.  They are a Republican network, through and through, yet they peruade absolutely no one of anything.  You watch Fox News because you're a believer looking for the latest talking points, and if you weren't already a believer, there's nothing they will say that will get you to believe.  A traumatic event like 9/11 or a disaster like the oil gusher in the Gulf might get you to rethink your political positions.  But there's nothing Bill O'Reilly can say that will get you to start hating big government if you weren't there already.

And that's why conservatives can even oppose policies that help them, because none of it really means anything to them.  It's empty rhetoric and feelgood talking points.  Required rationalizations to sooth the cognative dissonance they feel when reality keeps butting up against their beliefs.  But it doesn't actually mean anything.  And so Fox Newsies can demand taxcuts they'd never get, oppose taxcuts they WILL get, and attack healthcare reforms that will save them money and protect their lives. 

Nobody's actually persuaded by this crap.  You only believe if you want to believe, and even then, the rhetoric is only skin-deep and doesn't alter anyone's core beliefs.  As far as propaganda goes, this stuff is pretty weak tea.

And as for the rest of the media, it's obvious that pushing Republican goals isn't their intent.  They don't do it because they're ideologues.  They do it because they're stupid and shallow.  That's why they bring shallow guests on their shows, because they're even more shallow than their guests and wrongly believe the guest's own hype about their supposed expertise.

Rudy The Terror Clown

If the MSM were partisan, they'd bring out heavyweight conservative thinkers who spend all their time justifying conservative positions, and who know this stuff better than you know your mother.  They'd bring out a modern-day Kissinger, who might bore the host and viewers with his depth, but who really knows how to provide effective arguments supporting rightwing positions.  But instead, they give us Rudy Giuliani.

Now, Giuliani isn't a dumb man.  He was a lawyer, an effective prosecutor, and a famous Mayor; none of which requires a Mensa-like IQ, but clearly puts him above the intellect of a Palin.  And if the topic of discussion were New York, fighting crime, or winning an election in New York, I'd certainly bow to Giuliani's wisdom; if only because I'm too ignorant to know how to dispute his claims.  But as for national security and fighting terrorists, the man has the same credentials I do: None. 

Giuliani's not an expert on terrorism.  His only claim to fame on the subject was that he talked tough when Bush was still hiding with his tail between his legs.  And while that was certainly an improvement, that makes him about as much an expert on terrorism as a hospital clown is an expert on cancer.  Sure, he's met lots of sick people and made you feel better, but you're still not going to turn to him for medical advice.

And it's not just that Rudy isn't knowledgeable about terrorism.  It's that he doesn't even have anything decent to say on the subject.  I'm no expert, but I know enough about it that I could sound persuasive if I was asked about it on TV.  But Giuliani doesn't even do that.  No, it's just the same bunch of huff you could hear from any moron who agreed with him, and he doesn't even begin to support his position with anything that would persuade anyone of anything. 

In fact, whenever he's presented with the opportunity to give a persuasive argument and present his case, he ducks away and heads back to his talking points; keeping the conversation as meaningless as possible.  And while I'm sure that does well to prevent him from looking like the unknowledgeable lightweight he is, it doesn't do anything to push the Republican agenda down the field in any way. 

If this is someone's idea of pushing a Republican agenda, they don't seem to like Republicans very much.

The Right to Remain Stupid

In this case, Rudy is obsessed with Miranda, as if it's some huge blunder to read someone their rights.  But let's remember: Miranda doesn't give anyone rights.  They already have those rights, and Miranda is a reminder of those rights. 

And first off, who doesn't know they have these rights?  As someone at WaMonthly pointed out, a Richard Reid might not have known his rights because he's a foreigner, but a college-educated citizen like Faisal Shahzad probably knows better.  And if a reminder of those rights isn't currently part of the terrorist training these guys get, I'm sure it will be now.  Seriously, are we to imagine that Al Qaeda hasn't thought to tell their minions to keep their mouths shut?  Please.

And secondly, what exactly would we do if the guy refuses to talk before we Mirandize him?  Beat him up?  Again, this guy has the right to remain silent, whether we inform him of this or not.  Miranda isn't going to change that.  And the idea that we can arbitrarily strip people of these rights because they do something bad is absurd, as it negates the very idea of them being rights.  Unless we're going to rewrite the Constitution to say "The Bill of Privileges," these people aren't making any sense.  I can hear it now "You have the privilege to remain silent.  If you choose to evoke this privilege, it will be denied to you."

And yet, that's the only way that Giulian's position makes any sense: If he imagines that we get to torture people until we read them their rights, which means we need to do away with this right.  But again, there's nothing magical about Miranda and rights can't be stripped away just because they're inconvenient.  But I suppose, if we want to convince rightwingers of this, we just need to capture a Tea Partier Terrorist, evoke the "public safety exception" of Miranda, and wait for the howls of protests from wingnuts across the country. 

For whatever reason, these people can't comprehend hypothetical situations, and need to see their policies used against them before they begin to see the problems we're talking about.  That'd also be a good way to get them to oppose the Arizona Immigration Law.  Ask them for their immigration papers a few times and wait for the protests.

The Unpersuasive Clown

And the bigger point is that nobody is going to be persuaded by anything Giuliani said.  When Tapper asked Giuliani if we've ever stripped someone of their citizenship and labeled them an enemy combatant, Giuliani said that it's happened, but then changed the subject and didn't answer it.  And that's just dumb. 

You ignore questions you don't like, but this one went right to the heart of the point.  And if you can't knock a question like that out of the ballpark, you shouldn't even be on the show.  It'd be like if you asked the clown doctor how leeches will get rid of your tumor, and he answered by making a balloon animal and pulling a coin out of your ear.  Yes, he got away with not answering the question; but no, he didn't convince you to put leeches on your pancreas.

If this is the sort of bozo a partisan media will give us to sell their corporate point of view, I'd hate to see what would happen if they were any good at it.  Instead, it just makes more sense to think that the media keeps giving us shallow dopes like Giuliani and Liz Cheney because they, themselves, are extremely shallow, and actually imagine them to be experts. 

Giuliani stood on rubble and talked tough after a terrorist attack, while Liz Cheney was related to someone who talked tough about terrorism.  To a shallow twit, this is enough to make these people experts on terrorism.  But the rest of America will continue to treat Giuliani as a tough former mayor, while getting puzzled as to why the word "Liz" was put before the name Cheney. 

Dopes like Giuliani are who you turn to when you want to find out what the offical Republican talking points are.  You don't turn to them for anything original or insightful.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

How to Change the Change

Don't be surprised when, come November, the "conventional" wisdom once again proves to be incorrect.  We've been assured that people are mad at incumbents and will be punishing anyone associated with Washington. 

And I swear, I read a story earlier today about how incumbents did suprisingly well in today's primaries, but I can't find it now.  I suspect it's because it went against the media's story, which is why I can't find it, because it didn't fit into their preferred storyline.  But it demonstrated my point: Incumbents aren't as nearly at risk as you've been led to believe.

And the biggest oddity about the whole thing is that the entire meme is about how voters are tired of the status quo and are demanding change.  This paragraph about Harry Reid's problems sums up the idea quite well:
A succession of polls show most Nevadans are unhappy with his leadership, and his close association with Obama's agenda has turned off some voters in a state known for moderate politics with a libertarian streak. In a year when voters want change, he has a record in the Senate reaching back to the Reagan years.
Huh?  Voters want change?  You mean, like a significant reform of healthcare?  Or a pro-active approach of having the government solve problems?  That sort of change?  Or how Obama has completely revolutionized the way Washington works, so much so that he continues to disprove every known piece of conventional wisdom?  Is that the sort of change voters want?

Because I daresay that this IS what voters want.  This IS the change they voted for.  And anyone who supports it isn't supporting the status quo.  I mean, that's the whole complaint of Republicans and the Tea Partiers: That Obama is a socialist who is changing too much.  So if your complaint is that you don't like the status quo, you don't get to complain about Obama and his allies, as he's changing the status quo.  Again, his radical agenda is the big complaint against him. 

Obama's Radical Establishment

And that's what's so weird about the schizo political coverage this year, as we're to believe that Obama is a radical who represents the Establishment, while conservatives want to shake up the system by keeping things exactly as they are.  And I'm like, huh?  This is a message?  This is supposed to work?  Sorry, but I'm just not seeing it.  Because, yeah, people are saying they want change.  But that's a completely meaningless word if the "change" they want involves us going back to the way things were in the past.

And the entire storyline is absurd.  To hear the media tell it, the "conventional" wisdom essentially amounts to voters always wanting change, all the time, including a change against the changers they elected last time who did the changes they said they were going to do.  As if we all want change for change's sake, and nobody really wants change at all.  And I simply can't believe that.  And all it really is, is that the people who lost the last election want to change that, because they don't like having lost the last election, and reporters are lazy and like that story, as it's the same story they told last time, when voters really did want change.

And so, yeah, we've got a sizeable portion of the population clamoring for "change," but it's smaller than the group that lost the last election.  And while they're loud about their demand for change, it still doesn't negate the fact that they lost the last election and didn't get any bigger since then.  So again, I have serious doubts about these demands for "change," outside them being part of a media-created storyline.  Yes, there are people who want change, but that doesn't mean they know what they're talking about.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Terrorists Give Us the Dry Runs

Ugh, I hate it when the media gets fear-mongering in their veins and we end up with headlines like: Official: NYC Suspect Did Dry Run Before Car Bomb

And this is a great scary whistle for conservatives, who keep warning us about the dry runs they've witnessed every time they see brown-skinned people acting suspicious (ie, having brown skin).  But if you read the article, you see that this wasn't a "dry run."  Rather, the guy was apparently scouting locations for the best place to put it, which isn't a dry run or a "dress rehearsal" as the article also called it.

But it sounds a lot scarier to think that this guy had already been practicing his attack in broad daylight, for an attack that didn't require any practice.  I mean, it'd be one thing if he had parked a car in a nearby location to see what the reaction would be, but that's not the case.  And that's exactly what scared conservatives always think is happening every time scary brown people scare them, but don't actually attack.  They're not innocent; they're just testing us.

And so Colleen Long of the AP decided to play into that, describing a reconnaissance mission as a "dry run," because it sounds more ominous.  And now, we should expect to hear fevered reports of dry runs every time a brown-skinned person drives around the block more than once, thanks to a media that's more interested in getting attention than getting the truth.

Progressives Still Think We're Losers

I still keep reading about how the Republican strategy to make people hate Democrats is so effective, which is why they keep beating us.  As one commenter at WaMonthly wrote:
The sad part is that though the rebranding is a failure, Republicans have risen in the polls. Their secret is to make all elections about Democrats. Voters hate politicians, so the Democratic message of 'vote for us' tends to lose to the Republican message of 'don't vote for them'. The exceptions were 2006 and 2008, when even people who don't pay attention to politics realized how bad Republicans are.
And first off, this is a "secret" strategy?  I don't think so.  Attacking Democrats has been the cornerstone of every Republican campaign for the last forty years. 

And secondly, are we to imagine that Dems didn't make 2006 and 2008 all about Bush?  I'm pretty sure this is a strategy we used quite effectively, with the difference being that we then went ahead and explained how we'd do things better.  Meanwhile, the Republican strategy is to demonize everyone who isn't a Republican, under the delusion that there are more Republicans than non-Republicans.  And of course, the more they motivate the base, the more they offend everyone else; making it so they'll lose more votes than they gain.

And the weird thing is how they continue to imagine that 2006 and 2008 are somehow outliers.  And that makes sense as these same people were adament that we'd lose in those elections too, and still don't quite understand why their political model didn't apply in either year. 

But of course, it's not 2006 and 2008 that were the outliers.  It was 1994, 2002, and 2004 that were the outliers, while we made gains in the other seven Congressional elections.  So Republicans have a 3-7 record, yet we're to imagine that they've got a brilliant strategy that we just can't beat.  And for as much as I keep pointing this out, these people continue to hold on to their obviously flawed political model and refuse to acknowledge that the much-hailed Republican Hate Strategy has been an immense failure for a very long time.

And as for this year, it's not the Republican strategy that has them beating us.  It's the economy, stupid.  And if things keep improving as they are, there's little Republicans can do to win this election.  Sure, the sky is falling for progressives, because they think we need to hit Republicans harder than they hit us.  But they said the same damn thing at this point before the last two elections, and still don't understand why they were wrong.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Most Popular Politician in America

For some time, I've been referring to Obama as "the most popular politician in America" whenever people start imagining that we're really falling behind.  And I recently had someone ask me about that, as they weren't really sure if that was true.  But...who else would it be?  I mean, there really aren't that many people even known on the national level, and most of the ones who are known are infamous characters, with soiled reputations. 

So I went ahead and did a little looksie into the various people I could think of, including a few non-politicians.  And remember, these are people who aren't being held responsible for running the world, and in many cases, have no other responsibility than to impress people and aren't bound by the constraints of actually putting their money where their mouths are.  Oh, and these are "favorable" ratings, which are friendlier than "approval" ratings; which most of these folks don't have.

The top rival, of course, would be Sarah Palin.  Yet, Palin's favorable rating is 30% according to CBS, while 63% said she wouldn't be an effective president. CNN had her at 39% favorable, with 69% saying she isn't qualified to be president.
Glenn Beck has an 18% favorable rating, with 47% saying they didn't know enough about him to have an opinion.  Rush Limbaugh is a hero by comparison, with 23% of people having a positive attitude towards him.  He was better known, but also more hated.

George W has a 27% favorable rating over a year out of office, while presidential loser John McCain sits at 23% (though that was a recent development, and normally polls around 40%).  Oddly Darth Cheney polls about ten points higher than his former boss, even though he's a far more repellant man.  And finally, Karl "Turdblossum" Rove has a positive rating of 14%, while 38% say they don't even know who he is.  Ouch!
Minority Leader Boehner has a 12% favorable rating with 55% saying they never heard of him, according to Fox. While Gallup has his favorable at 29%.

And of the Republicans I saw, Mitt Romney did the best, getting 40% favorable; though of course, the Republican Base HATES Mitt Romney.

Meanwhile, Obama's favorable is still around 55%.  So even if Obama's competition gained five points and he lost five points, he'd still trounce his opponent by a nice margin.  Yet all the same, I'm sure we'll keep hearing about how much trouble he's in, and how his opponents have got him on the ropes; all evidence to the contrary.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, only 12% polled said they favored replacing Grant on the $50 bill with Reagan.  So, yea Grant fans!

Sunday, May 02, 2010

The Progressive Pony Plan

Do you know why progressives believe that our best option is to write progressive bills and demand that Republicans keep filibustering them until they pass? Because that's the only way their strategy makes any sense. It's not based upon reality. It's based upon their need for it to be true.  They developed the strategy first, then crafted reality to match it.

And so we're to imagine that Republicans will continually break every time we write a progressive bill, when we can't even peel off one Republican for a moderate bill. And we're to imagine that this is happening because Obama's a moron who would rather have Lucy pull the football away when he could have a touchdown on every play.  So the obvious strategy that feels good would also be the easy strategy that would work every time, if only we attempted it.

Honestly, how can anyone believe these fantasies? Hell, I'd fully support liberal laws that didn't require Republican input. And I'd also like for Santa Claus to pay all my bills and buy me a pony. But it ain't going to happen. And if Republicans were ever stupid enough to allow this strategy to work even once, they'd never make that mistake again. Holding your breath and turning blue ISN'T a plan.